Trump's bizarre obsession with Diet Coke reveals a major problem facing the soda giant

  • President Trump drinks up to 12 cans of Diet Coke a day, according to a report by the New York Times. 
  • The president has previously mocked the brand, tweeting "I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke."
  • Diet Coke sales have been declining for years. 
  • Coca-Cola is unable to make adjustments despite Diet Coke's struggles because of people — reportedly including Trump — who are dedicated to Diet Coke the way it is. 


A report that President Donald Trump drinks up to a dozen cans of Diet Coke a day reveals a paradox that is plaguing one of Coca-Cola's most iconic brands

For the last few years, Diet Coke has been the weakest link in the company's cola lineup. In October, Coca-Cola reported brand's sales by volume declined in the mid-single digits last quarter. Industry publication Beverage Digest reported Diet Coke US sales by the dollar dropped 1.9% in 2016. 

In many ways, Diet Coke doesn't fit health-conscious customers' needs in 2017. Americans are increasingly cutting sugar out of their diets, meaning that they're drinking less and less sugary sodas. However, shoppers remain suspicious of Diet Coke's use of artificial ingredients.

Trump provides a particularly notable case study, as both a Diet Coke superfan and someone who has helped perpetuate the drink's negative reputation. 

In 2012, Trump tweeted: "I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke."

Screen_Shot_2017 12 11_at_11_35_47_AMDonald Trump's Twitter

As seen by Trump's tweets, even people who might drink Diet Coke don't fully see the beverage as a healthy choice or trust the brand. 

Swapping sweeteners does little to reassure customers. Diet Pepsi sales declined 7.2% in 2016 after the company tried to win over customers concerned about the ingredient aspartame by rolling out an aspartame-free diet cola. 

"Diet CSD [carbonated soft drinks] sales were supposed to be the solution to the industry's calorie dilemma," Monica Kvamme, a consultant at Zenith Global Ltd, said at Beverage Digest's Market Smarts conference last week. "But, that was short-lived, as diet sales peaked in 2005 and have been falling ever since."  

RELATED: Check out the evolution of Coca-Cola: 

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UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s: Teenaged girl with bottle of Coca-Cola. (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) *23.03.1912-16.06.1977+Physiker, Raketenforscher, D/USA- Porträt mit Coca-Cola-Flasche- 1963 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
FRANCE - MAY 01: Centenary of Coca-Cola In France In May, 1986. (Photo by Didier CONTANT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
BOHOL, PHILIPPINES - 1988/01/01: A lemur clings to a coke bottle. . (Photo by Roland Neveu/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Bottles of Coca-Cola, Tab, and Sprite on the shelf of a grocery store in New York City, USA, September 1988. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Bottles of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Cans of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 20: Bottles of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke are displayed on a shelf in an Associated Supermarket in New York Thursday, October 20, 2005. Coca-Cola Co. said third-quarter profit surged 37 percent, the biggest gain in more than a year, as sales rebounded in the U.S. and demand for Powerade sports (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
PARK RIDGE, IL - NOVEMBER 07: 2-Liter bottles of Vanilla Coke as seen in a grocery store November 7, 2005 in Park Ridge, Illinois. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. has said it plans to discontinue its Vanilla Coke in the US by the end of the year. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 19: A general view of the new aluminum Coca-Cola bottle at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Fall 2009 Collections at Bryant Park on February 19, 2009 in New York City (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Coca Cola Company)
Bottles of Coca-Cola Co.'s Coke brand soda sit on a shelf behind the bar at Smith & Wollensky in New York, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 22, 2010. Coca-Cola Co., the world's biggest soda maker, agreed to buy the North American operations of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., more than six months after PepsiCo Inc. moved to bring its bottlers in-house to cut costs. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Rita Ora attends photocall to celebrates 100 years of the Coca-Cola Contour Bottle at the Coca-Cola Contour Centenary Bar on March 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
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Since 2005, diet soda sales have dropped a whopping 34%. By all counts, it's a struggling sector in the soda industry. 

Yet, Coca-Cola has avoided making any major changes to Diet Coke. That is because of super fans like Trump who are dedicated to the soda as is. 

 "I don't think we're likely to change Diet Coke," Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said in a call with reporters in October. "It has a large following." 

While Coca-Cola has found success with its Coke Zero Sugar reformulation, Diet Pepsi's struggles proves changing a drink's recipe can cause even larger problems. That's especially true when a brand has a cult follow, like Diet Coke does. 

So, as Coca-Cola works to find a way to turn the brand around, Diet Coke is banking on loyal fans drinking dozens of cans of cola a week — including, apparently, the president. 

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SEE ALSO: Trump reportedly drinks 12 cans of Diet Coke and watches up to 8 hours of TV per day

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